What is good customer service?
Susannah Friis wrote: For me, it’s helpfulness, coupled with polite friendliness. If I crack a joke and the sales person laughs, they are my new best friend. (Find Susannah at Personally Speaking and follow her writing journey at The Writerly Way. Stop by, say g’day.)
Geoffrey VanDyck, VanDyck Computers, wrote: It starts with the customer. Without the customer, there is no business. If helping the customer is beyond the capability of the customer service agent, then it means directing the customer to someone with the authority to do something. (If you are in Minot, ND, look to Geoffrey for his awesome computer skills. Find Geoffrey on Facebook.)
Jessica Pettengill Messinger wrote: Customer service reps who sound like they’re smiling, who are friendly, and who do all they can to help get my appreciation. If they can’t help you, they should refer you up the chain of command. I talked with a customer service rep today, and she made a very stressful situation much better because she was pleasant. (Check out Jessica’s children’s book Stinky Feet via CreateSpace.)
Tonia Marie Houston wrote: A good customer service rep knows how to listen before asking the right questions. This takes empathy, experience, and respect. (See Tonia Marie blogging at Passionfind or at the group blog Hugs and Chocolate.)
Years ago, I could walk into a local store and the cashier would call me by name and shake my hand. I’d ask for specials, find a few sales, and get a good deal. I would walk out of the store feeling valued, an important person.
Much is lost via internet connections, emails, Facebook messages. You don’t get the same friendly face-to-face you used to.
“Shake hands” as soon as possible
When I get an email from a prospective client, I send a return email within 24 hours.
If I know I cannot respond to emails within a day (travel, family visiting, whatever), I consider putting an auto reply in my email with a brief explanation for my absence and my estimated return.
Sharing, not dumping
When I connect with a new person online, I check out their Facebook, Twitter, website, and blog.
When I respond, I interject something personal. Like, “I see you live in eastern Pennsylvania. My mom grew up in Lansford, PA.” Or, “I see you are a Yankees fan. I’m a die-hard Phillies Phan. Perhaps I will see you in the play-offs?”
Agreements and promises
Agreements, with or without a contract, are critical. Though I conduct most editing business with a contract, I often mentor and advise without a contract.
If I promise turn-around in three days, you get turn-around in three days.
Honesty and providing other resources
Recently, a prospective client came to me with a sword & sorcery novel. I told him his genre was not my strong suit. Even so, I gave a free sample of my editing prowess, noting problems, suggesting numerous changes and improvements. I also suggested a number of editors he could contact if he was not happy with my critique.
Obligations, sincere apologies, no excuses
Ever screw up? Yeah, me too. See my recent blog post, Obligations, sincere apologies, no excuses.
What personal touch do you miss with virtual customer service? How do you connect – personally – with new friends via the internet?
Handshake photo by Charles Simpson Global via Photobucket.
Karen S. Elliott was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, writer, and a fabulous grandmother to two wonderful little boys.